". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


New WHO Regulations Crack Down on ‘Disinformation’

June 4, 2024

The World Health Organization (WHO) has adopted “legally binding” new rules that empower national governments to crack down on “misinformation and disinformation” with the help of local governments and “relevant stakeholders,” potentially including social media companies. The guidelines — which place “equity” on equal terms with “human rights and fundamental freedoms” — instruct elected officials to begin “adjusting their domestic legislat[ion]” to implement WHO’s decrees.

The 77th annual World Health Assembly closed Saturday without adopting its proposed WHO Pandemic Agreement. But delegates celebrated the fact that they amended WHO’s governing legislation, the International Health Regulations (IHRs), for the first time since 2005. The new IHRs, which are intended to shape sovereign nations’ responses to pandemics and other international health crises, significantly enhance WHO’s standing and authority while disrespecting American citizens’ right to freedom of speech.

The amended IHRs classify combatting “misinformation and disinformation” as part of each nation’s “core capacities,” which it must exercise perpetually — when “preventing, preparing for and responding to public health risks.” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus once insisted that “fake news” is “just as deadly” as a pandemic. The updated text of the IHRs state, “Each State Party shall develop, strengthen and maintain the core capacities for … risk communication, including addressing misinformation and disinformation” (Annex 1:3i). National governments shall also “coordinate with and support the [l]ocal level in preventing, preparing for and responding to public health risks and events,” including “misinformation and disinformation” (Annex 1:2). The text of the pandemic agreement — which WHA delegated to be punted until later this year or next — also called on national governments “to prevent misinformation, disinformation and stigmatization” (Introduction, 13).

To combat this purported infodemic, the IHRs direct governments to “engage relevant stakeholders” (Annex 1:1). Although the document never defines this term, the U.S. government established a portal that flagged posts and accounts for censorship or deletion on social media platforms. Twitter alone impacted 1.5 million accounts in one month. Much of the content suppressed as “baseless conspiracy theories” have since been authenticated.

Nations “shall take measures to implement” the new WHO guidelines, “including, as appropriate, adjusting their domestic legislative and/or administrative arrangements” (Article 4:2bis). “The IHR are an instrument of international law that is legally-binding on 196 countries, including the 194 WHO Member States,” explains the WHO.

Much of the WHO’s proposed directives may not align with the views of U.S. citizens. The amended IHRs place “equity and solidarity” on equal terms with the global governance body’s “full respect for the dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms of persons” (Article 3:1).

“The amendments passed in a final version by consensus, meaning no state objected to their passage,” noted Travis Weber, vice president for Policy and Government Affairs at Family Research Council, on Monday’s episode of “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins.” He added that amending the IHRs took “longer than anticipated to agree to the amendments, and they never even got the pandemic agreement done.”

Adopting these measures may prove costly to the United States and the developed West. The amended IHRs require that a nation “shall maintain or increase domestic funding” to provide “sustainable financing to support the implementation of these Regulations” (Article 44:2bis). This funding goes on between pandemics. The amended version of Article 44 expands WHO’s involvement beyond collaboration to “financing.” WHO member nations “shall undertake to collaborate” in response and “preparedness for pandemics. WHO itself shall also facilitate “access to relevant health products” (Article 44:1). The IHRs define “relevant health products” as an expansive and open-ended series of items and services that includes “medicines, vaccines, diagnostics, medical devices, vector control products, personal protective equipment, decontamination products, assistive products, antidotes, cell- and gene-based therapies, and other health technologies.”

Strictly following the wording of WHO dictates could result in the U.S. funding China. Nations must “enable access to financial resources” through a “Coordinating Financial Mechanism,” which WHO deems “necessary to equitably address the needs and priorities of developing countries” (Article 44:2ter). WHO classifies China as a developing country.

“Tonight we have all won, and the world has won,” alleged Ghebreyesus, who obtained his post with the support of the Chinese Communist Party, after the body amended the IHRs. “You have made the world safer.”

The WHO director-general wins under the amended IHRs, which grant him the ability to determine whether any international public health emergency “constitutes a pandemic emergency” (Article 12:4bis), as well as when it “has ended” (Article 12:5). However, he does so with the help of an “emergency committee” (Article 48:1 and 2).

The amended articles imply that the WHO may prolong the duration of a pandemic, including how long it will recommend nations implement any “temporary recommendations” to combat pandemics, if it believes any part of the world lacks “access” to health products. “When issuing, modifying or terminating temporary or standing recommendations, the Director-General shall consider … availability of, and accessibility to relevant health products” (Article 17:d bis), the IHRs state.

Article 54 also establishes a “State Parties Committee for the Implementation of the International Health Regulations,” which the IHRs assure members is “facilitative and consultative in nature only.”

“The new regulations call for increased coordination, both within countries and between member states,” Weber told Perkins.

The scheme adopted on Saturday significantly broadens the number of international organizations to which the WHO may pass on sensitive information that could impact governments’ national security. Existing IHRs required nations to notify WHO of any potential health crisis within 24 hours, but previously WHO only shared data with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and only if it “involves the [IAEA’s] competency.” The amended IHRs broaden this to any “other intergovernmental organization(s)” (Article 6:1).

The regulations also further stoke WHO officials to insert themselves into their member states’ national governance. Previously, WHO could only “collaborate” with nations “[a]t the request of a” member nation. But under the amended IHRs, WHO can now initiate its collaboration “following [a nation’s] acceptance of an offer by WHO” (Article 13:3).

Article 35 entangles the WHO in setting up guidelines for vaccination records. The amended IHRs commit WHO to develop “technical guidance, including specifications or standards” to assure the “authenticity of health documents, both in digital format and non-digital format” (Article 35:3). The IHRs feature an amended “Model International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis.”

Despite the augmented power granted to the WHO, some found the new revisions did not go far enough toward cementing global governance. Some globalists longed for the IHRs to punish nations that did not implement their terms.

“The amendments do not include any provisions for a compliance mechanism. How can countries be held accountable to their commitments without a compliance mechanism?” asked Nina Schwalbe, who directed the public health program for George Soros’s Open Society Institute (now the Open Society Foundations) spanning 40 nations; she also worked for the Population Council. Schwalbe is now CEO of Spark Street Advisors.

The oversight means “we can get out of” the WHO’s expanded powers, said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. “If we had the right administration, they could easily pull the plug on this.”

Experts say President Joe Biden will consolidate the WHO’s power as long as he holds executive authority, for eight months or four more years. “The Biden administration was all in and trying to get this done,” said Weber. “They’re going to aggressively try to do everything they can to implement these,” including” “further regulation and planning within the executive branch of the federal government,” as well as working with state health authorities.”

Although delegates could not agree on a final text of a new pandemic agreement, they hold out hope that a future agreement will further strengthen the authority granted by the amended IHRs. The WHO Pandemic Agreement could be adopted as it was commissioned: at a special session of the World Health Assembly.

The body negotiating the agreement, the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB), will meet again in July.

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Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.